Phoenix Mountain Ski Hill continues to grow and improve its facilities with a lot of hard work put in by volunteers and businesses willing to help out the non-profit recreation area.
Snow is still months away, but building and maintenance is underway. Currently, the first aid building was undergoing work as of July 20, with volunteers putting in an 11-hour day filling and compacting the crawl space to prepare for cement, said Phoenix administrator Cathy Astofooroff.
Shinon Lawrence, Art Raymond, Pierre Peron, Doug Huxter, Jamie Stewart, John Malins, Don Colclough put in their time to make this happen, she said.
“Donations of time and materials from people and businesses like this are the reason Phoenix can operate,” she said.
“We are so lucky to have this area for people to use,” she said. “Otherwise they’d have to go to Baldy, Red Mountain, Revelstoke, or Kokanee.”
Because they are a non-profit there is always someone questioning why people are charged fees. This is because they have to pay for staff, utilities and of course, insurance.
Beyond building and construction, Astofooroff said the ski area is always in need of summer maintenance. Some of the help they get, such as brushing, has to be specialized because of the type of equipment, she explained. One man came out last year with his tractor to mow as much as they could, so the brushes wouldn’t be as difficult cutting down tall grass and shrubs.
Equipment also needs to be repaired and maintained between the seasons. The rope tow, tramway, T-bars and all the machinery running those need to be serviced before the seasons change and the hill re-opens.
“There’s a lot of work in the off-season that goes on in order for the hill to work,” she said. “It’s not like we can just come in and turn a switch, which a lot of people think is the case. There is a lot of effort that goes into that.”
Even with all the work, there is still a lot to be done, including a new rental shop, which she joked is often colder inside than it is outside.
To keep the place running, there needs to be a lot of fundraising and donations. There is a donation process administered through the City of Grand Forks where people can get tax receipts.
Being the executive director of B.C. Snowboard Association, Astofooroff can also do funding applications for Phoenix. This has secured some financial support for the past couple years, she said.
Of course, their annual 50/50 draw brings in more funds and support for the recreation site. The community around Phoenix has been one of the biggest sources of support.
“Even if they aren’t skiers, there’s a lot of people that love the hill because they used to ski, their kids did, their grandkids did, plus people love to gamble,” she said.
There have been suggestions the hill could be utilized year-round for other activities, such as hosting private parties and weddings. Astofooroff said they are looking into it, but there are no definite plans.